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City Council edges forward on two referenda questions for this October’s city elections

Memphis City Council members Tuesday (July 25) took the first step towards approving referenda questions for this October’s city elections after unanimously approving a pair of resolutions, including whether to re-establish the City Court Clerk position as an elected position.

It was the first of three required readings.

The other referendum asks voters if employees of the City of Memphis should be required to live within Shelby County limits.

The Court Clerk referendum seeks to reverse a June vote, when the council also unanimously approved an ordinance that gave power of appointment to the three City Court judges. The appointee would then seek council approval.

As a result of the vote, the clerk’s position will not be on this year’s ballot on Oct. 5.

Current City Court Clerk Myron Lowery’s term ends on Dec. 31. Afterwards, the Traffic Violations Bureau will move to the city administration’s division of finance and administration. 

Council members moved to nix the office as an elected position after an ongoing review of the City Charter, where council attorney Allan Wade and city Chief Legal Officer Jennifer Sink discovered a problem.

In 1975, a referendum was passed during a city election to make the clerk’s office an elected position. However, the ballot question was supposed to take place alongside the Shelby County general election during an even-numbered year.

Regarding the residency referendum, the city’s Department of Human Resources website residency requirement page states:Effective January 3, 2011, all City of Memphis Government employees must be residents of Shelby County, Tennessee … Employees hired on or before January 3, 2005, may continue residing outside the boundaries of Shelby County, Tennessee, and shall not be required to move into the County. 

The requirement makes exceptions for police officers.

Council chair Martavius Jones sponsored both referenda.

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